I Was Going to Say; Fire Fast


This post is by Jeff Carter from Points and Figures


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It seems when you watch or read some things there is always a lesson for entrepreneurship in it if you frame it through that lens. Read the book on Jimmy Doolittle and the raid on Tokyo in April of 1942 and you recognize that the group he conceived of, formed and led was a start-up.

I was watching the Bears game yesterday and I mentioned to my father that the one thing I didn’t want to see. The Bears up, Eagles ball with not a lot of time on the clock.

The Eagles scored and the Bears did great work getting back down the field which should have given them a game winning field goal and it would be time for everyone to book a flight to Los Angeles.

Except, over the course of the season, the Bears kicker hasn’t been the most accurate. The team knew that going into playoffs but decided to stick with him.

In entrepreneurship, when someone isn’t working out, you have to let them go. If you let it fester on for too long their attitude, performance or whatever else isn’t causing it to work will infect the rest of the team and your company will be looking at an uncomfortable exit. Sometimes it’s not a team member but a founder. Maybe it’s someone in the board room. The wheels have to be greased and moving for the company to move forward and a non-performing employee is grit in that process.

The Bears should have fired their kicker earlier in the year when they saw him messing up over and over again. It’s the pros. It’s a business. No time for emotion. When you have a playoff team it can be rare so you have to put everything together for that one run.

In startups, you might have some time to work it out but you need to be transparent that everyone is on a short leash. As soon as you recognize someone isn’t working out, you need to have that tough conversation about what’s expected and why they aren’t working out. You might give it some time, and if the situation doesn’t change, they need to go.

In all of these situations, it is also a good idea for you to investigate a bit more deeply. Talk to employees. Get some feedback. Maybe it’s a part of your management style that has to change to make it all work? That keeps lines of communication open and in startups, that is really really critical.

I opened up Twitter this morning and saw this.

Clearly, the ball was tipped. That brings a whole different set of variables to the fire fast equation. Presented with new information, do you still fire the kicker? Or not?

Even if your gut tells you to do something, do some research and dig in. Be as objective as you can.  This is a situation where confirmation bias might be really hard to fight through.  Open up your chess board and run through different games where you don’t do what your gut tells you to do.  See where it leads and if it opens up a new window for you.  If it doesn’t and you come at sort of the same spot, you know what to do.